CACO Eligibility

The following CACO eligibility and retake policy applies to all candidates attempting the CACO.

CEO-ECO will be implementing changes to the CACO eligibility policy, effective June 2015. CEO-ECO will ensure that candidates are informed about how these changes will affect them. Candidates who attempted the CACO in spring 2015 (April 2015 or May 2015) will receive information about individual eligibility when their exam results are sent to them. Please note that CEO-ECO is not able to respond to inquiries about individual eligibility before exam results are issued and received. Results will be issued by CEO-ECO according to the schedule here.

CACO Eligibility
The Eligibility Table describes who is eligible to take the CACO and the documentation required.

Note: While this policy establishes a time limit for completion of the CACO, provincial regulatory bodies may also have individual time limits or requirements related to “currency” (time since graduation or past practice) for registration/licensure. Candidates are encouraged to verify all registration requirements in the jurisdiction where they intend to register and practice. Successful completion of the CACO is only one requirement of provincial registration/licensure.

CACO Sequence

The written examination may be attempted prior to the skills examination. However, an applicant is not required to pass the written examination prior to attempting the skills examination.

A candidate may attempt the CACO at either the fall or a spring (April or May) administration.

Eligibility – Early Write Opportunity

The following are eligible to attempt the written CACO at a fall (October) administration:

  • Individuals in their final year of study of a doctor of optometry (OD) program accredited by the ACOE (Category 1).
    • These individuals may challenge the CACO skills in a subsequent CACO administration if they graduate with an OD degree on or before June 30th of that subsequent year.
  • Individuals who have completed the classroom/didactic portion of a bridging education program prior to the fall administration (Category 5a)
    • These individuals may challenge the CACO skills in a subsequent CACO administration if they complete the bridging program before that administration

The only time a candidate may take the written and clinical exams at two different administrations is when the written components have been completed as an early write opportunity.

Confirmation of Eligibility (Categories 1 & 2)

Candidates registering for a spring administration must graduate with an OD degree on or before June 30th following that administration
Candidates registering for a fall administration must graduate with an OD degree on or before November 30th following that administration

Passing the CACO
All components of the CACO must be successfully completed to pass the CACO.

Time Limit to Register for the CACO
An individual not registered to practice as an optometrist in Canada or the U.S. has three years from the date of program completion to first attempt the CACO. This includes individuals in categories 1, 2, 4, 5. There is no time limit for individuals in Category 3 who are registered and current in practice.

Time Limit to Complete the CACO

A candidate has a maximum of three years from the date of the first attempt to pass the CACO.

The first date that an individual attempts some part or all of the CACO is deemed to be the date of the first attempt of the CACO. For example, October 2015 is deemed to be the date of the first attempt of the CACO for an individual who attempts the CACO written in October 2015.

Note that the time limit to complete the CACO is not extended if a candidate fails to remain eligible to attempt the CACO, for example, due to incompletion of an OD degree.

All other CACO policies including the Cancellation/Refunds policy continue to apply.

Number of Eligible Attempts
Candidates must pass the CACO within three attempts for each examination, meaning candidates may take the written exam a maximum of three times and take the skills exam a maximum of three times. Once a candidate has failed either the written or the skills exam three times, he/she will not be allowed to register for any additional attempts of the remaining exam, as he or she will be deemed to have failed the CACO.

Individuals who have failed the CACO after three attempts may apply for a fourth (4th) and final attempt. All attempts including a fourth and final attempt must be completed within three years from the date of the first attempt.

An individual who has not passed all components of the CACO within all eligible attempts (maximum four) and three years from the first attempt will be ineligible for any more attempts.

After each failed attempt, a report is provided for failed components. All individuals are encouraged to and may elect to complete education or remediation to address areas of performance deficiencies after any failed attempt. The 3-year timeline will not be extended for this reason.

A candidate who has failed components of the exam must attempt all of the failed components during his/her next attempt. For example, a candidate who has failed two skills components may not attempt only one of those components the next time he/she registers to attempt the skills exam.

CACO Reassessment – Fourth & Final Attempt

A candidate who does not pass all components of the CACO within three attempts will be considered to have failed the CACO.

The following policy and procedure applies only to candidates who have failed the CACO as defined above (i.e. registrants who fail to pass the CACO in three administrations, are still within the three-year timeframe) and who seek to apply for re-eligibility.

All inquiries with CEO-ECO regarding requests for eligibility must be in writing, i.e. by email, fax or mail. Telephone inquiries will not be accepted.

Candidates who have failed the CACO on three attempts, may, upon approval, be granted a final, fourth attempt.

Approval to register for a final attempt will be based on the candidates’ submission of a signed declaration that indicates the candidate has undertaken education and/or training prior to undertaking their final attempt. This declaration form must be submitted with the exam registration and will include that candidates:

  • understand that they are responsible for their retraining/remediation;
  • commit to completing their retraining/remediation prior to their fourth exam attempt;
  • understand that CEO-ECO will not review, approve or be liable for their training plan;
  • in their fourth attempt the candidate must complete all components of the CACO; and
  • that if they fail their fourth attempt they will no longer be eligible to attempt the CACO.

See Final Attempt Declaration form

Attempting the exam while ineligible

Any candidate who attempts the exam while ineligible will have their results nullified but the attempt will count as an attempt for the purposes of “Number of Attempts” and also commences the 3 year cycle under the “time limit to complete the CACO.”


All applications for the CACO are subject to CEO-ECO approval of eligibility and will be refused if all application and eligibility requirements have not been met.

Approvals of eligibility do not replace the submission of an application for the CACO and the deadline for response to the offer of eligibility does not replace any and all CEO-ECO policies including application deadlines for the CACO, available on

Candidates are encouraged to carefully read the complete the Eligibility and Reassessment policy and procedures to determine eligibility for the CACO.